Photo credit: Steed Media Service

Jim Colon stands as one of the most important figures in the auto industry. Colon, who serves as vice president of African American Business Strategy at Toyota Motor Sales, has decided to retire. He began his career at Toyota in 1980 after graduating Manchester University.

During his tenure, he was able to create significant strides by engaging the African-American and minority communities. Colon made it a point to build Toyota’s bond with Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers. He also made sure that Toyota created strong relationships with HBCUs. Colon helped to introduce the Toyota Green Initiative which toured HBCU campuses and raised awareness on how to promote sustainable living with millennials.

During the 2016 Detroit Auto Show, Colon spoke with rolling out on the highlights of the week and Toyota’s awards at the Diversity Volume Leadership Awards presented by NAMAD and IHS Automotive. “It was a tremendous opportunity for recognition for Toyota and Lexus,” he said. “Twenty categories — 10 awards for us. At Toyota, we are all very proud of them for the recognition.”

He also spoke about the importance of reaching the African-American market.

“The data is telling us that the consumer base is changing. And in my opinion, this is one of the most prominent shifts in consumer demographics. You know, I’ve been in the car business for over 30 years — we’ve never seen this shift in the consumer demographics like this before,” he explained. “The Asian consumers, African American consumers, Hispanic consumers — those are the consumers that are now growing our business. And it is impactful for all of the automotive companies to recognize that these customers are coming to the market. They support our products, and we have to figure out a business strategy and ways to also support those consumers as well.”

Colon’s last day with Toyota will be March 18.

A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.